If you want to paint your camper and don't take the proper steps it will be more difficult for the paint to adhere, and it could peel off in the future.

When painting the aluminum or metal siding of a camper these steps will be necessary:

  1. Make any necessary repairs. Repair any holes, dents or rust spots
  2. Remove any stickers or decals.
  3. Wash the camper with soap and water.
  4. Make sure the surface is clean and dry before applying metal-safe paint.

The paint job on my vintage camper was fairly aged when I bought it. Rather than play for professionals I chose to paint it myself utilizing a paint gun. The process is time consuming, but I found it was a great way to personalize my rig.

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How To Paint An Aluminum Sided Camper

Cleaning and Removing Rust Before Painting

If you have any rust spots or dents, you can use a rust remover to remove them. If you have stickers or decals on your camper, be sure to remove them before painting. Wash the surface with soap and water for best results.

Clean the camper with soap and water to remove dirt and grime.

If the camper is brand new, you may not need to do this. If it's old and dirty, you'll want to thoroughly clean it before painting it.

To do this, use soapy water with a rag or sponge to wipe down the surface of the camper. When you're done cleaning your camper with soap and water, rinse it thoroughly with warm water until no more suds remain on the aluminum (or other surface).

Using Degreaser To Prepare an RV For Paint

Next, use a degreaser to remove any remaining soap scum or other dirt from the surface of the aluminum. Degreasers are strong chemicals that can cause damage if not used properly, so make sure to follow all directions on the packaging when using one. Once you've washed down your camper with warm water, rinse it again thoroughly and let it dry before continuing with painting.

TSP or trisodium phosphate is a powerful cleaner that will remove any grease residue.

TSP is a powerful cleaner that will remove any grease residue. It's a degreaser and also contains an acid that removes rust from metal surfaces, making it a great choice for cleaning your aluminum camper. TSP is sold in most hardware stores and can be used to clean just about anything. When using TSP, wear safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and skin from splashes. Also keep in mind that once you've cleaned with this product, you'll need to neutralize it after use as it will continue to eat away at the surface if left unchecked.

TSP is also an alkaline cleaner, so you'll need to neutralize it before using any other cleaners. The easiest way to do this is with vinegar or lemon juice. Mix one part water with one part vinegar or lemon juice and then rinse the surface thoroughly.

How To Sand A Camper For Painting

You'll want to sand down the aluminum with a fine grit sandpaper.

You'll want to sand down the aluminum with a fine grit sandpaper. Sanding blocks are great for this, or you can use your hand if you're feeling daring. Don't worry about going overboard here—you can always sand off more later if your project needs it.

Once you've finished with your fine-grit sanding and removed all the dust from your vehicle (Vacuuming is an excellent way to do this), it's time for another layer of primer. Give the entire surface of your camper two coats of primer to make sure everything is nice and covered up before moving on to painting it.

After your primer dries, it's time to get out your paint. You'll want to choose a color that matches the outside of your camper as closely as possible. If you're painting a white vehicle, make sure to pick up white paint; for black, get black paint; etc.

When you are painting an aluminum vehicle, it's important to choose a paint that is designed for use on metal. Most standard paints will not stick well to your car, and will peel off easily if exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures.

Wash it down again with soap and water, then rinse it well. Use a sponge or brush to wash down the camper. Use a hose to rinse the camper. Don't use a pressure washer, as it can cause damage. Don't forget to rinse the inside of your camper too.

Your camper is now clean and ready for you to dry it off. Use a towel or an electric fan to dry out the interior. Don't use a hairdryer, as it can damage your camper's materials. Let the camper sit outside in the sun for a few hours so that all of the moisture can evaporate from inside.

Applying Paint To Aluminum Camper Siding

To make sure you have good paint adhesion, use a bonding primer to cover the camper in one coat, wait at least 2 hours then apply another coat of primer.

To make sure you have good paint adhesion, use bonding primer to cover the camper in one coat, wait at least 2 hours then apply another coat of primer. The next step is to prepare your paint surface by cleaning it with a non-acetone solvent such as lacquer thinner or MEK. Once this is done, apply two coats of high-build epoxy filler over any scratches or dents that may be present on the aluminum surface until they are completely filled in.

Once the filler has dried, sand it down with 400-grit sandpaper until there are no more visible scratches or dents. Then, clean the surface again with a non-acetone solvent and apply two coats of high quality marine primer over the entire camper.

The next step is to apply two coats of high quality marine paint over the entire camper. Once this has dried, sand it down with 400-grit sandpaper until there are no more visible scratches or dents. Then, clean the surface again with a non-acetone solvent and apply two coats of high quality marine primer over the entire camper.

Cover your entire camper with latex paint, making sure you get into all of the tight corners and crevices, if needed.

Once your camper is fully prepared, use a paint roller to coat the entire surface with latex paint. Make sure you get into all of the tight corners, and if there are any crevices in windows or doors, you may need to use a brush for those as well.

Once the paint is dry, you can start staining your camper. Start with the roof, using a brush to apply stain in small areas at a time so it doesn’t bleed into other sections of wood that aren’t ready for stain yet.

Tips For DIY Painting An RV

It's much easier than you think to paint an aluminum camper. You can do it yourself, provided you have the right paint and give the job your full attention. You'll need good ventilation, too.

In general, it's better to use a latex exterior house paint or semi-gloss enamel on aluminum campers than oil base paints. Some people prefer acrylic latex because of its low odor and easy cleanup, but I've found that acrylic doesn't last as long as other types of paint unless it's properly cured by baking in hot sun for several days after application (or using an oven).

If you live in colder climates I recommend following manufacturers' instructions before applying any new product directly onto bare metal surfaces like fiberglass or aluminum siding which may be subject to condensation forming on them during winter months due to cold spots within a structure such as poorly insulated walls/ceilings leading up into attics etc.

About THE AUTHOR

Elijah White

Elijah White

My wife and I bought a broken down 1984 Chevy A-Class 26ft RV and restored it back to working order. Now we both work remotely and live in it full time with our pet cats with the freedom to explore.

Read More About Elijah White